Augmented Reality & Virtual Reality in Healthcare Will Be Revolutionary

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) is the new way patients are diagnosed and treated. Remote surgery, hands on training, virtual medical learning, etc. are common applications of these two technologies in healthcare sector. Augmented reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view often by using the camera on a smartphone whereas, Virtual reality (VR) indicates a complete involvement experience that shuts out the physical world.

Augmented reality is the use of displays, cameras, and sensors to overlay digital information onto the real world. In contrast to Virtual reality (VR),which creates an entirely new world, AR allows us to bring the most useful information from the digital realm into our perception of the environment around us. AR is not a new concept, but over the last few years, advances in camera and sensor technology and AR-focused software research have made it practical — we’re still in the early stages of the AR revolution, but this year and into the future, we can expect to see an explosion of AR devices and applications enter the market.

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Indeed, healthcare and medical fields will be among the first to embrace AR in a big way. In fact, today there are many nurses and doctors interacting with AR applications every day to improve patient education and outcomes.

Google Glass was the first AR platform to get wide public exposure. However, it’s safe to say that it wasn’t a huge success with consumers, largely because of the high-cost,limited functionality, and perception problems — Google Glass was attractive, but it didn’t look attractive. Beyond the consumer market, Google Glass has found a home in enterprise and in the healthcare field, demonstrating the importance of AR even at that early stage of development.

Many companies are now hard at work laying the foundation of the AR revolution. For example, Microsoft’s Hololens is hugely impressive and is seeing wide adoption throughout industry and the healthcare space.

AR in healthcare

Healthcare workers have been quick to realise the benefits of AR technologies. Education is an obvious application of augmented reality in the healthcare field. Healthcare workers have to learn a huge amount of information about anatomy and the way the body functions. AR applications give learners the ability to visualise and interact with three-dimensional representations of bodies.

Key Points

  • Augmented reality is used in healthcare facilities across the world today, for applications that include vein visualisation, surgical visualisation and education.
  • Recent hardware and software advances have reduced the cost of augmented reality while significantly improving the experience for users and developers.
  • Forward-thinking healthcare providers are investigating the potential benefits of AR to their customers and their business.
  • We’re in the early days of AR in healthcare, but the future will bring significant advances to the education of patients and healthcare professionals, communication, and patient outcomes.

The key players influencing the market are Worldviz, General Electric Company, Eon Reality Inc., Layar, Hologic, Inc., Koninklijke Philips N.V., Siemens Medical Solutions USA, Inc., CAE Healthcare, Intuitive Surgical, TheraSim Inc.


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